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Okay so I'm not one to complain much about airlines since I know it usually isn't the ground staff's fault. But I had a pretty horrible experience the other day.

Was flying to LGA from Cleveland with a connection in Baltimore. Flight was for 6:15 and we ended up boarding at 6:45. Plane didn't take off until 10:45. Yup, 4 hours onboard while still on the tarmac. At one point they had to take us back to the gate because we ran low on fuel while hanging out on the tarmac. Finally got to BWI at 11:45 or so and my second flight had left. Terribly rude ground staff girl said they could only give me 29 dollars in southwest credit. I said I would talk to a manager who gave me 100 dollar voucher. I found out that there was a flight to Newark in 15 minutes so I ran to the gate and was unable to get on that flight. To make matters worse, they took my voucher back and said I needed to go to the check in area to get another one. By the time I got there, it was already closed. They said I needed to come back after 4 to claim it. Only problem was, was that my only was to make the interview was to take Amtrak from BWI at 3:40 AM.

My question: has anyone ever had an experience like this? What possible recourse do I have for something like this? I know delays happen but 4 hours on the tarmac? I took it all in stride and eventually got to my interview on time through the help of some friends/family in the NY area. Thanks for the help.

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the ticket was only 140, which ended up being refunded entirely and I got to keep the 100 dollar voucher as well.

saud0488 (Dec. 28, 2012 @ 7:39p) |

sounds like it worked out. I dont know the details of why you could not take off, I dont fly a 737. Could even have been... (more)

rickt86 (Dec. 28, 2012 @ 8:31p) |

you showed that incredibly rude agent that $29 was not going to do it --- and on top of that you proved that you are sma... (more)

germanpope (Dec. 28, 2012 @ 9:33p) |

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There are rules about how long an airline can keep passengers in the plane. Read the following and see if you have a case:

FAQ on Consumer Rule April 28 2010.pdf
DOT airline passenger protections to take effect
Tarmac Delays and Airline Passenger Rights

You can file a complaint at Aviation Consumer Protection.

Yeah I googled "airline bill of rights" on the plane and read most of it. I think it's after 3 hours they get charged 27k per passenger or something to that effect?

At a minimum you should e-mail & ask for the $100 back; throw in a copy of Amtrak receipt.
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/southwest-rapid-rewards/1303479-d...

Are you still within the CC dispute window? Or was the ticket paid for by the interviewer?

If everyone who had a horrible experience on SWA got compensation, then we would all be rich

What was the reason they stated that the flight did not leave on time?

I'm confused a little, your story is missing some details.

Was your connection on SW or did you put together your own connection on some other airline?

If you had the whole trip booked through SW, then they would have rebooked you on another flight to get you to your final. Not offer you a voucher and leave it up to you to find a flight.

And I don't understand the whole "they took my voucher" thing, who did? If you didn't make the alternated flight, why would they have your voucher? Or for that matter why would you need one? You already paid for the flight when you originally bought a ticket.

I am fairly sure as a pilot for an airline (not SWA), that you were given the option to get off the plane during that 4 hours or else they didnt close the main cabin door and leave the gate. They are beyond hysterical with the 3 hour rule, and I find it hard to believe that it actually happened.

Why was the flight so late, since you went back for fuel, I am going to guess weather, which now a days airline make that as much your problem as theirs, since they cant control it. If its winter in Cleveland you should give yourself a 6 hour layover, especially when its going to be close to the last flight of the night to ny.

If you had an interview, how much more would it have been to go direct from CLE to LGA? I know my airline does that flight daily, maybe I would have flown you to NY? I know we would have been back to the gate after 2 hours, and most likely the flight would have canceled, to ensure your passenger bill of rights.

Your claim would be a lot stronger if you were indeed held captive for more than 3 hours; clock starts when the plane pushes back from the gate. If they opened the door, allowed you to get off when returning to the gate for fuel, the clock restarted, your claim is a bit less. As rickt86 suggests, all bets for compensation are off if any portion of the delay can be blamed on weather.

As rickt86 also suggested, there should be some lessons learned from this experience. The airspace in the NYC area is highly congested, weather can severly disrupt travel plans, such connections can become extremely risky. For example, I now favor Amtrak for travel between the Wash DC area and NYC - not worth rolling the dice on shuttle, particularly during rush hour, winter.

I'd do a BBB complaint. This will get you connected to someone at corporate!

CC charge back perhaps?

Write them a letter about your experience. Be objective and don't exaggerate, but do state your case. If there is an airline out there who you'd have a prayer of being treated reasonably after such an experience, it's Southwest. They "get it". If, OTOH you were dealing with Delta or one of the others, -good luck.

So much negativity...

The flight did go back to the gate after three hours and people were allowed to get off but I didn't see the point in leaving the aircraft since there was no other flight until early in the morning. Plus....I'm a student (not a union member). Also I saw that my second flight to LGA kept getting delayed so I held out hope that I'd have a chance to get onto that flight. I came pretty close too. I saw it pushing back as my plane was arriving at the gate.

And why does the clock start when pushing back from the gate? It's not like we have a chance to get off the plane once the door are closed. We kind of sat there for an hour and did nothing at the gate.

Yes, Delta, American and United all fly nonstops to LGA/EWR/JFK from CLE. My home airport is CAK and Airtran has a nonstop from there as well to LGA. But price wise, nothing even came close for an evening flight.

I don't know that NYC airspace had much to do with it as much as the snow on the ground in Cleveland. We taxi'd for a while, turned around, watched other planes take off and had the pilot tell us that the runway was too slick. We even got on the runway, and then we got off cause the winds had shifted. Then we had to watch more planes take off so that we could use that taxiway to get back to the gate.

On my way back yesterday I once again flew SW and ended up running into the supervisor who gave me that 100 dollar voucher back. But with this being such a horrible experience, I still plan on calling to complain today.

Yeah the weather argument is one thing, but why allow us onto the plane when it was already delayed due to the same blizzard? Furthermore, why keep us on it for that long?

saud0488 said:   Yeah the weather argument is one thing, but why allow us onto the plane when it was already delayed due to the same blizzard? Furthermore, why keep us on it for that long?

Because aviation is extremely fluid and your just a snow flake in a blizzard. Your dealing with an airline, airplane, airport, air traffic control network completely outside the airlines control, and weather they can not control. All of the above can change on a seconds notice, and they are not going to run around the airport rounding up 130 people. The goal was to get the flight out, that was in everyone's best interest, but cant do it till all the above mentioned stars line up perfect. Its easiest to catch the chance sitting out short of the runway, not at the gate with no one on the plane. Sure ATC may have have you a time of 4pm, and your flight was at 1pm, but that all can change real fast, as other airlines cancel flights, or a million other things, odds are in the favor it will be moved up to an earlier time. Everyone takes the best odds and rolls the dice, especially in weather. Now when it comes to actually flying that is no roll of any dice, that is the safe end, but all the other factors have to line up to meet that safety standard.

People have demanded the cheapest ticket possible, and it is what is driving the industry. In the good old days of high fares the airlines had the cash to buy you a hotel room, or whatever else, because your airline basically was putting trip insurance on your flight, now a days you can buy that optional from another company or else take a gamble. No matter how you spin it, people want cheap, and they want the govt to control the safety end because they know their cheapness is making it unsafe otherwise. I deal with this stuff half the year all day long, trust me I get it, but if you want something better, you have to pay for it. Buy travel insurance, buy a direct flight, buy a first class ticket (I bet thatd get you a hotel room and voucher really quick). As others said SWA actually treats people better than most, and you might have luck sending a letter, but all your going to get is a voucher to fly on them again somewhere else.

I am speaking from my own experiences and not in any means in the capacity of an airline representative. I am purely directing my experience to you directly, from me only. (Disclaimer due to company policy of social media).

saud0488 said:   Yeah the weather argument is one thing, but why allow us onto the plane when it was already delayed due to the same blizzard? Furthermore, why keep us on it for that long?

You start applying logic to this, and the simple answer is the flight would have canceled. It never would have got out. At that point southwest is better off canceling the flight and ferrying the airplane and crew so it can get to BWI and try and finish the other flights it had to do that day. Only shot of getting out was to load up and sit short of the runway hoping a slot opened up. I really dont know the full story on the weather but thats just how it works. Your lucky the first time it went back to the gate after 3 hours they didnt just cancel the flight. Rail and bus service from CLE to NYC is rough. Downside with SWA is they cant rebook you on anyone else, if it were a main brand airline they could have put you on just about anyone (besides swa/airtran).

rickt86 said:   saud0488 said:   Yeah the weather argument is one thing, but why allow us onto the plane when it was already delayed due to the same blizzard? Furthermore, why keep us on it for that long?

You start applying logic to this, and the simple answer is the flight would have canceled. It never would have got out. At that point southwest is better off canceling the flight and ferrying the airplane and crew so it can get to BWI and try and finish the other flights it had to do that day. Only shot of getting out was to load up and sit short of the runway hoping a slot opened up. I really dont know the full story on the weather but thats just how it works. Your lucky the first time it went back to the gate after 3 hours they didnt just cancel the flight. Rail and bus service from CLE to NYC is rough. Downside with SWA is they cant rebook you on anyone else, if it were a main brand airline they could have put you on just about anyone (besides swa/airtran).


Both of your posts are very true. Though, rough doesn't begin to describe the rail/bus service.

Unfortunately when weather is entered into the equation, airlines won't budge from putting you on another one of their own flights. I've seen Delta and AA do this as well. If it's mechanical or something else, then they've accomodated me but it was like pulling teeth.

saud0488 said:   rickt86 said:   saud0488 said:   Yeah the weather argument is one thing, but why allow us onto the plane when it was already delayed due to the same blizzard? Furthermore, why keep us on it for that long?

You start applying logic to this, and the simple answer is the flight would have canceled. It never would have got out. At that point southwest is better off canceling the flight and ferrying the airplane and crew so it can get to BWI and try and finish the other flights it had to do that day. Only shot of getting out was to load up and sit short of the runway hoping a slot opened up. I really dont know the full story on the weather but thats just how it works. Your lucky the first time it went back to the gate after 3 hours they didnt just cancel the flight. Rail and bus service from CLE to NYC is rough. Downside with SWA is they cant rebook you on anyone else, if it were a main brand airline they could have put you on just about anyone (besides swa/airtran).


Both of your posts are very true. Though, rough doesn't begin to describe the rail/bus service.

Unfortunately when weather is entered into the equation, airlines won't budge from putting you on another one of their own flights. I've seen Delta and AA do this as well. If it's mechanical or something else, then they've accomodated me but it was like pulling teeth.



Ya its not fun flying, try doing it for a living. My advice is in the future, if its an important interview, in the winter, buy a direct flight if the price is not much more. I have done CLE LGA, and more frequently CLE JFK, we do it and so does another airline just off the top of my head. You should be proud you were heads up enough to get there in time for your interview, most people would have been stuck in BWI. Write them a letter/email and just explain your frustration that they took your voucher, its about all you will get. I doubt anything would come from a CC dispute because you most likely purchased a non refundable fare, and my guess is that airlines are gurus at disputes. I know cruise ship and hotel disputes never really work out well. Look on the bight side of it all, they didnt take off in a blizzard that was not safe, and crash and kill you. Airline pilots desire to get home to their families is one thing that can not be completely nickeled and dimed.

saud0488 said:    .... We taxi'd for a while, turned around, watched other planes take off and had the pilot tell us that the runway was too slick. We even got on the runway, and then we got off cause the winds had shifted. Then we had to watch more planes take off so that we could use that taxiway to get back to the gate....


If the pilot says the runway is too slick, then the runway is too slick.

He is paid to know the aircraft and to keep you safe. They owe you nothing.

maybe this is the plane OP

perhaps your pilot noticed that it needed some new tires

What did the OP pay for the ticket? Airline might be more generous if the $100 credit is not a substantial percentage of the total purchase.

saud0488 said:   Yeah the weather argument is one thing, but why allow us onto the plane when it was already delayed due to the same blizzard? Furthermore, why keep us on it for that long?

The pilot was looking for a window of opportunity to leave and didn't get it.

germanpope said:   saud0488 said:    .... We taxi'd for a while, turned around, watched other planes take off and had the pilot tell us that the runway was too slick. We even got on the runway, and then we got off cause the winds had shifted. Then we had to watch more planes take off so that we could use that taxiway to get back to the gate....


If the pilot says the runway is too slick, then the runway is too slick.

He is paid to know the aircraft and to keep you safe. They owe you nothing.


There are procedures on how to handle runways that are too slick. Keeping passengers onboard for 3 hours isn't amongst those procedures. Can someone explain to me why I watched numerous Delta, AA, and United RJ's and 737's take off and land on the same runway while my SW 737 and another one were forced to wait. I know equipment differences with every airline, but still. I'm really curious.

Anyways I just got off the phone with SW customer relations. That call was a lot quicker than I imagined it being. Talked to the rep less than 3 minutes. Explained the whole thing to her and she offered a refund on my flight and the 100 dollar voucher. I don't recall any other airline customer relations dept. ever being this easy to deal with.

So yeah, Southwest seems to disagree with you.

shank said:   What did the OP pay for the ticket? Airline might be more generous if the $100 credit is not a substantial percentage of the total purchase.

the ticket was only 140, which ended up being refunded entirely and I got to keep the 100 dollar voucher as well.

sounds like it worked out. I dont know the details of why you could not take off, I dont fly a 737. Could even have been a tool Captain. I just fly one of those crummy scary puddle jumping RJs. The one that I have averaged 2 hours a flight this year. Must be some big puddles.

Sounds from your post, that if you had taken my airline you would have arrived in LGA/JFK.

saud0488 said:    ... So yeah, Southwest seems to disagree with you ....

you showed that incredibly rude agent that $29 was not going to do it --- and on top of that you proved that you are smarter than the pope

you win!

happy flying



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